Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Blue Springs and Daytona Beach 2/3/2012 to 2/10/2012

After visiting the Merrows at Lake Griffin, we headed east to the Daytona Beach area. Tomoka State Park is on the western side of the inter coastal waterway. We have camped there in the past and enjoy the lush vegetation and spacious campsites. The other reason we enjoy this State Park is that it is only a very short jaunt over a bridge to public access parking lots on the ocean. It is actually Ormond Beach, however, when we walk south on the sand we hit Daytona Beach without even noticing any difference.

One day during our week here we traveled the 30 or so miles to Blue Springs State Park. This is another of the many warm water springs that dot Florida's landscape. This one pumps over 100 MILLION gallons of 72 degree water from the underground aquifer to the surface every 24 hours, which then runs about a quarter of a mile to empty into the St. John River. Naturally, it is a favorite with the manatees.

Even though the temperatures here in Florida have not dropped significantly there were still several manatees in the spring run off. Not in the numbers we saw several years ago when temperatures had fallen dramatically, but there were four or five visible from the boardwalk.

Manatees are often rescued from the wild, due to cold shock or injury, nursed back to health and released again. The visible buoy that is attached to the tail of this manatee allows resident scientists to monitor the behavior of newly released animals so they can tell if they are eating, socializing and adjusting to life back in the wild.

We originally thought the white marks on this manatee were scars from boat propellers. Boat propellers are the most common cause of manatee injury because these animals move very slowly. We found out later that the marks are actually scaring from cold shock. The cold causes skin lesions similar to blisters on the manatees hide.

The St. John River Queen took us on a 2 hour cruise up the river and through some of the old passage ways where the river originally twisted and turned before the corps of engineers dredged many miles of S curves out of the waterway so river boats could make the trip to the ocean in half the time. The 310 mile St. John is the only river in Florida that flows north all the way to the ocean at Jacksonville.

The river boat narrator had a personal knowledge of 15 alligator nest sites he had found along the river. We were able to spot many pods of baby reptiles from the boat. Usually mama was not far away. We were told she will protect her young until they are two years old and can better fend for themselves. Lots of bird sitings during the trip but no Nikon camera to get any decent pictures. A pair of sand hill cranes had just arrived at their previous years nesting site but they were too far away to get a picture with my phone. The trip was very enjoyable and informative.

Super Bowl Sunday fell in the midst of our camping stay at Tomoka State Park so we left our camper at the park and went over to Daytona Beach to get a motel in order to watch the game. We had an outstanding view of the beach from our balcony on the 7th floor.

North view

South view

We enjoyed the view but not the game results.

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